Scheduled to be inaugurated around 2025, the telescope Nancy grace roman be considered one of the largest telescopes intended for planet hunting. Compared to the main mirror of the Hubble space telescope, that of the Nancy Grace Roman is smaller, although it is 25% larger than that of its predecessor.
However, the field of view of this telescope does exceed that of Hubble, which gives it the potential to discover up to 100,000 worlds orbiting other stars. In this sense, the space telescope will have the mission of analyzing the sky in infrared wavelengths. This action will be carried out through two methods:
- Transit method: With this method, the telescope measures the falls of light from a star at the moment that a planet describes its path in front of it, all this seen from Earth.
- Gravitational microlensing: With this method the telescope will observe the slight increases in light generated by the presence of an exoplanet.
As far as exoplanets are concerned, most of these have been discovered through the transit method. The reason is that this is much more effective when taking into account the regular and periodic dimming of a star. However, this will only be possible in systems where the exoplanet moves between the star and the Earth.
So far 2800 planets out of a total of 4400 have been discovered through the transit method implemented by the Kepler spacecraft.
Once it is put into operation, the Nancy Grace Roman telescope is likely to do its job. finding orphan planets, so called for traveling through space without being subject to a star. It has been thought that these planets have a size that can vary, being smaller than Mars or as big as Jupiter and Saturn.
Also, it is likely that a good part of the planets observed by the Roman telescope are located within what scientists have called the habitable zone or Goldilocks, an area established around the parent star where the detected temperatures are neither nor too hot or cold to allow water to concentrate on the surface.
Among the advantages of this telescope is having a 100 times wider field of view, which will allow you to cover vast swaths of the sky when carrying out your observation.
In addition, the Nancy Grace Roman telescope will have a camera capable of taking images with the same resolution as that of the Hubble telescope, also collecting a much larger amount of data.
From a distance of a million kilometers from the earth, the telescope will have the possibility of observing the Milky Way more deeply than other missions focused on this objective.
This is how this telescope focuses on observing a single point in the sky, with the purpose of discovering hundreds of unknown planets with the help of microlenses.
In this regard, the professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, Scott Gaud expressed the following:
The universe could be full of rogue planets and we don’t even know it. We will never know if we do not conduct an exhaustive study of microlenses in space like the one Roman is going to do.
In the case of Kepler, the star systems explored by this telescope are located at an average distance of only 2 thousand light-years from the earth, being observed in a square of 115 degrees. In contrast, the Roman telescope will have the capacity to make observations at a distance of up to 26 thousand light-years from our world in search of exoplanets.
The data collected by this telescope is expected to be analyzed by astronomers of the future who will spend years and even decades carrying out this task until they are successful in searching for worlds beyond the solar system.